Car racing and watches have shared a strong connection for decades, with racing and high-performance cars often serving as a direct inspiration for time pieces.
Such examples include classics like the Rolex Daytona and TAG Heuer Carrera, both now more than 50 years old. Here are 12 recent watches from the pages of magazine Watch Time that were influenced by motorsport.
As a partner with Lamborghini in the all-Lambo Super Trofeo racing series, Blancpain produces a line of Super Trofeo watches in its L-Evolution collection. The 2012 Blancpain L-Evolution Super Trofeo (right) watch has a flyback chronograph and incorporates materials found in Lamborghini cars, including carbon fiber in the case and dial and alcantara leather for the strap. Lamborghini also designed a Blancpain-branded Lamborghini Super Trofeo race car.
As part of its Breitling for Bentley series, Breitling introduced the Supersports Chronograph (right), a limited-edition timepiece made as a tribute to the Continental Supersports, the fastest and most powerful Bentley ever made. The watch features a “dashboard-style” dial in Royal Ebony, with either blue, orange or white-ringed subdials and inner bezels. The bezel, designed in the style of Bentley dashboard controls, activates a variable tachymeter which measures things like average speed.
Inspired by the Gulf Oil-sponsored racing teams of the 1970s, and the iconic Porsche 917 driven by Steve McQueen in the racing film Le Mans, the BRM BT-12 46 Gulf (right) has an in-house manufactured case carved from a single block of titanium and finished with a complement of six precision bolts. The case is 46mm in diameter and the dial features the familiar orange-and-blue Gulf logo, whose colors are also echoed on the strap, made of actual seatbelt material from a racecar.
The Chopard Superfast Chrono (right) comes in 45mm-diameter case, and is powered by Chopard’s automatic Calibre 03.05-M. The silver-brushed vertical lines against the black background of the dial resemble the cooling fins on air-cooled racing engines, while the rubber strap has a smooth tread pattern, resembling slick race tyres. The watch also features a tachymeter scale along the bezel.
The Graham Silverstone RS Endurance 24HR (right) has a double chronograph function for measuring 24-hour race and lap times. The main measurement of minutes and seconds is operated by the stop-start-reset chrono pusher at 2 o’clock with an inset red rubber catch, while an additional red pusher at 4 o’clock activates a secondary chronograph with a 24-hour counter and flyback function. Motorsport-inspired elements include the strap with its tyre-tread-patterned black rubber.
Hublot launched its collaboration with Italian sportscar icon Ferrari in 2012. The partnership has already produced some memorable timepieces, including the Hublot Big Bang Ferrari Titanium Carbon (BB FTC) (right), which features Hublot’s now-famous red sapphire crystal. The BB FTC is a flyback chronograph, and features a Ferrari-red central chronograph hand, and a subdial at 3 o’clock to record up to 60 elapsed minutes. The carbon fiber bezel is also manufactured in-house by Hublot; both titanium and carbon fiber are materials commonly used in high-performance automobiles.
IWC’s revamped Ingenieuer line is inspired by the brand’s partnership with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One racing team. The IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium (right) has a titanium case and bezel, and also has a titanium crown, crown protector, and push-buttons, all of which are then coated with rubber for a better grip. The watch has a chronograph mechanism with a split-seconds hand that can be used to record two intermediate times within a given minute while the blue- or white-tipped chronograph hand continues to run. When the push-button at 10 o’clock is pressed again, the split-seconds hand instantly catches up with the chronograph hand and runs synchronously with it again. As a result, the user can record as many lap times — important for determining pole position — as he chooses.
Jaeger-LeCoultre marked the 100th anniversary of British company Aston-Martin, a partner for nearly a decade in the development of special watches. The Master Compressor Extreme W-Alarm Aston Martin (right) combines a world-time display with a mechanical alarm function. The 46.3mm-diameter case combines titanium and stainless steel and has a special logo, created by Aston Martin for its centennial, engraved on the caseback, while the black dial has a surface treatment evoking the grille on an Aston Martin.
The Parmigiani Bugatti Type 370 Mythe (right) takes its cues from the “engine block for the wrist” aesthetic of that original Type 370 watch, including its unprecedented “transverse tubular” movement design, which assembles the plates and gears along a horizontal axis rather than a traditional vertical one. The case is designed in “driver’s watch” style, in which the time display can be seen easily by a driver with both hands on the wheel. The design of the tilted dial and the unusually shaped 18k rose gold case is based on an iconic Bugatti style element, the famous Type 57 grille, which was used on some of the earliest Bugattis.
Richard Mille also drew inspiration from materials used in Formula One cars for the RM 011 Flyback Chronograph (right), the first watch with a case made of brown silicon nitride. The silicone nitride in the watch is exceptionally hard and is highly resistant not only to wear and corrosion, but also to severe temperature variations. It is also very lightweight, which is why it is used in the car industry to make parts such as valves and turbocharger rotors. The watch is equipped with Richard Mille’s automatic caliber RMAC1, updated to include a flyback chronograph mechanism.
Two years ago, Rolex unveiled a 50th anniversary edition of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (right), which gets its name from the famous racetrack. It is the first Daytona with a platinum case. Its tachymeter bezel is made of Rolex’s Cerachrom material. The wearer can use the tachymeter scale, in conjunction with the chronograph, to measure average speeds of up to 400km/h.
TAG Heuer also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic Carrera with the release of several new TAG Heuer Carrera watches. The design of the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 36 Chronograph Flyback (right) is influenced by vintage TAG Heuer stopwatches, with the seconds displayed on a large scale along the outer rim of the dial. The watch also features a Zenith El Primero movement.
The Tissot PRS 516 Extreme (right) is based on a motorsport-inspired Tissot timepiece from the 1960s but adds some contemporary touches. The smooth lines of the case evoke the bodywork of modern cars and the details on the dial and bezel echo those on dashboards. The strap has a racing-stripe design with a honeycomb pattern reminiscent of a car’s ventilation system; there is also a version available that has the original model’s famous bracelet, with cut-out circles illustrating the steering wheels of racecars. The automatic movement, visible through a clear caseback, powers a chronograph and date display.